Safeguarding your sanctuary: how to burglar-proof your home

A quick look at national crime figures for England and Wales tells a worrying story: between 2021 and 2022 there was a reported 7% increase in burglaries. While some regions will always experience higher crime rates than others, such statistics prompt homeowners everywhere to understandably want to know what they can do to protect their properties and families.

The good news is that there are many proactive measures we can all take and the most robust defence against crime is a concept called ‘layered security’: integrating multiple barriers and deterrents to make your home an unattractive and difficult target. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to do this, sharing practical tips and advice on burglar-proofing your home through a range of common-sense precautions.

Locks and intruder alarms

The first line of defence against a potential burglary is high-quality, secure locks on all entry points. On windows, replace old-fashioned locks with internal key locks, lever bolts or casement security stays. Make sure every window has a lock, not just on the ground floor.

Look for products that meet British Standard BS 3621. This certifies that the locks meet stringent burglar resistance standards when properly installed. Many locks will be tested to pass the PAS 24 standard as well, which involves simulated break-in attempts to grade security.

For uPVC and composite doors, look for locks that are integrated with a robust multi-point locking system. Quality brands to look for include Yale, Chubb, Banham and Era. If you’ve recently moved house, we would highly recommend getting a locksmith to evaluate your home security and upgrade where necessary.

For the next level of protection, consider installing an audible intruder alarm with panic buttons and sensors on doors, windows, and other areas like sheds or attics. Choose a monitored system that alerts security personnel and can summon police. Fake alarm boxes may deter some burglars but monitored systems offer a guaranteed response. Place alarm stickers prominently as a warning, and make sure you test the system regularly to ensure it’s in full working order at all times.

Effective window dressings

Burglars often ‘case the joint’ ahead of time, looking for weaknesses and opportunities in your home that can be exploited later. Enhance privacy and make your home look occupied even when it’s empty, using curtains, blinds and smart glass solutions.

Use curtains strategically for added privacy. On ground floors or easily accessible windows, opt for blackout curtains or blinds that fully block sight lines from outside when closed, with net curtains for added privacy during the daytime. On upper floors, lighter privacy curtains or blinds are sufficient.

For additional visibility protection, and particularly if you don’t like the look and feel of voiles or net curtains, you can apply residential security window films. “Placed over large windows, they can make it impossible for anyone to see into the property while ensuring that light still gets into your home,” says one expert.

Finally, keep hedges, fences and plants around windows trimmed to remove hiding spots. Ensure windows and their locks are accessible and in working order and always double-check that all windows are closed before you leave home, even for a short while.

Security lighting and cameras

Outdoor lighting is well-known to deter burglars and make them feel exposed when approaching a property. With that in mind, install motion-activated security lights in the garden, by entrances, side gates, garages, alleyways, and any vulnerable or dark spots, making sure they are placed high up enough to avoid being tampered with.

Use bright, LED flood lights or spotlights triggered by movement via a PIR (passive infrared sensor) or dusk-to-dawn sensors that stay on during hours of darkness. Point lights towards entry points and locations where burglars may break in. You can also consider wiring lights to an alarm system so they activate when the alarm is triggered.

If lights aren’t enough of a deterrent, there’s also the option of installing CCTV camera systems to provide 24/7 monitoring and recording of video evidence of any burglary activity. Cameras should be positioned to overlook driveways, entryways, gates, rear gardens and vulnerable windows, with additional signage clearly stating that CCTV cameras are in use. Choose HD cameras with night vision capability to ensure clear footage even in low light.

Local Neighbourhood Watch schemes

Joining a local Neighbourhood Watch scheme is a great way to stay informed about criminal activity in your area. It’s the largest voluntary crime prevention movement in England and Wales with more than 2.3 million members. By working together, neighbours can create a network of eyes and ears to spot suspicious behaviour. Click here to find a local scheme and get involved in protecting not only your own home but your local community too.

You can attend local meetings to pick up crime prevention tips and share information with neighbours about unfamiliar vehicles or people snooping around properties. You can also ask neighbours to keep an eye on your home when you are away, collecting your post or parking a car in your drive, making your home look occupied when it isn’t. It should go without saying that you should never post about upcoming holidays or long absences on social media!

Additional tips to burglar-proof your home

Burglary is a violation that leaves victims feeling unsafe in their own homes – which nobody wants. By taking proactive precautions, homeowners can drastically reduce their chances of being targeted. For the most effective protection, we recommend a layered security approach using locks, alarms, lighting, CCTV and community involvement, as explained in detail above.

We’ll leave you with some final handy tips for securing your home:

  • Keep valuables out of sight and in locked, anchored safes when possible.
  • Don’t leave car keys and important documents near entryways.
  • Designate a safe room or panic area you can retreat to in case of a break-in.
  • Use simple timer plugs to automatically turn lights and radios on when you’re away.
  • Better still, create the illusion of occupancy with smart home automation controls.
  • Trim vegetation and trees to remove any hiding spots around your property.
  • Make sure all your fences and gates are locked and in a good state of repair.
  • Display a security system sticker even if you don’t have one!

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